y dont u mail roopa urslf? 2ndly,i dnt wnt 2 spk wid u. u r jst lke n e of thm.
I stare at the text message exasperated. Did I see this coming, you may ask. Perhaps not. Give it further thought and I would probably say yes too. All I wanted WonDER to do was check with her friend in Delhi, Roopa, about a particular book on art that I badly wanted. Her reply shocked me.
That’s what beguiles me. Sooner or later, WonDER was going to say what she already had in the message. jst lke n e of thm. Though, I can’t say for sure whether I am angry or just plain stumped. My whole system wants to react to that statement.
If I was like any of them, why persist with me all this while? It’s true that I hadn’t mailed her as regularly as I had, in all these years. But I had told her I wouldn’t be able to. If you were to ask me, I had just let it be. The truth was, I badly needed the time off.
I have just listened to her all these years. That’s what WonDER wanted. I wasn’t supposed to talk. She had lots to say. Or she thought. I was supposed to listen to all her moments of glory. And, of course, her never-ending saga of how the world always seems to be cruel to her. Right from the time she was born. She had been wronged and she wanted me to listen.
And I did.
You might ask me is listening such a big deal? I really don’t know but I can say it eats me up. You wouldn’t know about it until it goes critical. You can see it in your eyes. You see a haze in them. A haze of overgrown morbid thoughts, the emaciation of spirit; because the one person who has to listen to you just doesn’t want you to speak. You have to listen.
It’s not that I didn’t try. I did. Except for standard condescension that bordered on “You shouldn’t be bothered with problems like that. And look at you, aren’t you the strong one who tells me never to despair? Come on, ChulBUL, you can do better than this. By the way, it doesn’t look good on you when you mope! The strong one!”.
Everybody can cry. I shouldn’t.
Who’s the strong one, you might ask. Maybe she was alluding to someone who can just smile all the time – calmness personified in the face of life’s wrath. Listening all the while. Why is it that I alone get to meet people who are nervous wrecks, in their own right? As if I have just been born to be there for them? No, you are supposed to listen, be there.
dont mean 2 hurt u, mayb its bst whtevr happns. a break wil do us gud.
Isn’t it easy when you can dictate somebody’s presence in your life? Something like ordering a pizza. No, it’s more like shooing Robin, my dog, just when I have enough of him. Yes, he will listen to me when I want him to. Nice, he’s mute. He isn’t going to trouble me with his everyday doggie troubles. Similarly, you will tell me she has the right to take time off. I agree. Probably, you think I am stupid not to have taken mine.
I am stupid. But I do love her, you know.
a break wil do us gud.
Frankly, I thought I could ease up a bit since I had told WonDER I wouldn’t be mailing her much because I was busy at work. And every weekend, when I would check my mail, I would find hordes of mails waiting, from her. I admit I couldn’t manage more than a few lines when I replied to her, sometimes I couldn’t write any, other than the cursory how are you. And I would, then, worry about how I could have written a few caring lines since she always needed them.
I never went anywhere without telling her. Just in case, she wanted to talk about something nice that happened to her. Or someone had hurt her. I never gave myself a break.
Did you know she calls me her soul mate? Ask me what it means and I can just be stumped like my Dad used to be when I coined all those funny names for things as I discovered them when I was a kid. Oh, I used to be like that. I had some funny names for everything I saw for the first time. OK, the soul mate. I am not sure; it must be something about understanding each other. She told me it’s been like this forever. “We were just meant to meet. Like made for each other” I had laughed then. It was corny.
She works at one of those big, grey publishing houses nestled in the swank New Cantonment. Sometimes, she would rush out during the break to walk with me in the deserted park nearby, sandwich carefully wrapped in a paper napkin. I would be all grime and color after the painting class I attended. And she would always point out in that impish voice of hers, “You know, ChulBUL, there is no black or white. Just a million shades of grey.” Unlike me, she never does talk philosophy. But this was one of those days. She would then begin to talk about how somebody had berated her at the office or maybe how her maid hadn’t turned up that morning. I listened. The charcoal theory class could wait.
WonDER would chatter non-stop as we trudged the innumerable trails in the park. Weary, I would plop on the grass and she would be droning on about the colleague who was flirting with her boss. Sometimes, I would blank myself out partly due to the exhaustion, partly because listening took its toll on me.
don’t feel bad, mayb its my fault 4 being so snstive. a break wil do us gud.
Can’t blame her. That’s what I thought too. Only that it looks so bad now. Was I being a trifle too selfish?
Like I said, I did very often try to open up to her. I knew everything about her. Yet, nothing about me seemed to matter to her. I was the strong one. Once, I said,” You can always come and cry to me. But who will I turn to?” And she dismissed it with a “Me”. It’s nice to hear when it comes from her, but it has never been like that. I had never told her anything, never felt like doing so. Maybe I didn’t want to add to her truckload of mundane problems. Was I being kind to her? Being selfless? Maybe I didn’t love myself a wee bit. I hated myself. I hated her.
i wont b caling, hv lots of things 2 do 2day. take it esy, hv fun, don’t think of me 2 mch. im genraly disilusiond with ppl.
Tell me what’s fun? How do you go about it when you are told not to think about the person you love, that she won’t be calling, that you can take it easy? Am yet to figure that out. I wouldn’t tell you about this otherwise, would I? don’t think of me 2 mch. Like I needed the space to do what I had dreamt about all along. Oh, but I couldn’t have done that. Do you think so? I had to be there to listen.
No, I can’t be going on like this. I just thought you might want to listen. But I am beginning to wonder if I have just ranted about trivial matters. I have more to say. But do you think I might be trying to blame someone and justify myself? The last thing I want to do now is get clever. Maybe, the need to be listened to is more in certain people. Certainly more than me. Who knows? Looks like I will find my peace here because you listened.
i wont b caling.
I only hope WonDER does call. To tell me more.